St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church: 1854-1969
After several years of itinerant preachers and services held in various homes, barns or in the out of doors, a church was built in 1858 and, a year later, dedicated as Canada Presbyterian Church by Rev. David Allan. It was located where the Horticultural Park now sits on Dinsley Street.
The organization for the congregation began in 1854. J.B. Taylor, Kenneth McBean, Thomas Ritchie, John Laidlaw and Walter McGowan were the board of management. Andrew and James Stewart, Malcolm Campbell, H. Richmond and McGowan were the building committee.
Following Rev. John Rennie’s three years of travelling to Blyth for services, Rev. Alexander Currie became the first regular minister in 1860. Rev. John Stewart in 1862 then Rev. Archibald McLean in 1865 followed him. Rev. McLean spent 40 years preaching in Blyth.
A new church, built in 1877 at a cost of $4,340, was on the corner of Dinsley and Mill and renamed St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. It was dedicated by Rev. Dr. McVicar of Montreal.
In the early days there was a $3 per family pew fee for the year. That was later dropped, but pews were allotted to families. That was stopped in 1938.
During the period 1866 to 1902, the church wielded considerable power over the morality of its parishioners. Some of the reasons for being called before the session to defend one’s actions included absence from church, ignoring infant baptism, disrespectful talk about one’s mother, stealing corn from the neighbour, fornication, attending a Baptist service, drunkenness, separation from one’s wife and gossiping.
An organ was finally allowed for the service in 1892 after the session had previously stated that they were “of the opinion that the introduction of instrumental music into the public worship of God is uncalled for”.
The Book of Praise was approved in 1899.
Rev. J. L. Small served as minister after Rev. McLean’s retirement in 1906.
The manse, stables and church sheds were rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1909.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church became St. Andrews United Church in 1925. The ministers were: Rev. George Telford, 1925-1927; Rev. George Weir, 1928-1932 and Rev. George Oliver, 1932-1934.
All properties passed to the United Church in 1934 during unification.
The remaining Presbyterians worshipped at other locations until purchasing the vacated Methodist Church in 1936.
Many of those Presbyterians went to the United Church when the building was sold to the Christian Reformed Church congregation in 1969 or joined the Presbyterian congregation in Belgrave.